Monday, January 07, 2019

Truest statement of the week

Elizabeth Warren talks a good progressive game but her description of herself as “capitalist to my bones” is an indication that she will only go so far. She signed on to Medicare For All legislation but also sponsored her own bill which undercuts that effort. That stance isn’t surprising. Adherence to private sector control of the health care system is what capitalists do.
But Warren herself is not the only issue. She will be followed by others throwing their hats into the ring. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are all expected to follow suit. Texas congressman Robert “Beto” O’Rourke is the latest flavor of the month and favorite of corporate Democrats. O’Rourke has been called Obama 2.0, a pretty face with center right politics who is sold to voters as a progressive savior.

Black voters will again be the losers if there is no discussion or debate about how to make political demands. If there is no serious reflection about 2016 that will be the case even if a Democrat wins. We already see the meager benefits of Democratic control of Congress. Nancy Pelosi speaks of forcing Donald Trump to release his tax records but doesn’t discuss anything that will motivate new voters to come out or bring any benefits to the masses of people.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "Elizabeth Warren and the Trap for Black Voters" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Early Monday morning.

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Margaret Kimberley gets another truest.
Well said (the Tweet).
Ava and C.I. explore bravery and 'bravery.'
Arkin stops working for NBC and MSNBC when he turns in a critique.
We could have been a lot meaner in this.  Goldstein got off easy.
No, everyone on the left does not worship Nancy Pelosi or think she's so wonderful.
Isaiah's latest comic.
Reality intrudes on Ellen.
C.I.'s year in review.
Martha and Shirley's look at books.
Kat looks at the year in music.
Ann and Stan look at films.
Rebecca picks the 10 hottest men.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: A resolution

Let's all try to speak plainly and clearly in 2019 as we call out the never-ending wars.

For example:

Wrong.The western approach to the problems of the Middle East bears all the hallmarks of genocide where civilian populations in Iraq,Afghanistan, Pakistan,Yemen,Palestine and the Horn of Africa have been decimated by the so-called war on terror.

TV: Ellen created her own mess when she decided to embrace homophobia

Last week, Ellen DeGeneres attempted to use her position as host of THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW to raise an important issue.

Dr. Peter Phillips:  One of the policies that western governments has implemented is austerity.  That means they spend less money on people and humanitarian concerns and allow greater investment by private interests into public resources.  So rather it's water rights or freeway systems, they allow the privatization of literally everything -- patent rights, I mean, just anything that can offer a return is privatized.  And we're seeing that very, very massively.  We're also seeing the privatization of war and war's another way that capital can be used to guarantee a return to these investment companies.  So the US has bases,you know -- 800 bases worldwide, in cooperation with NATO it's working in Africa, we've got troops and training troops and military actions going on in 140 nations worldwide.  That's not to protect the United States from terrorists or the people here.  That's to protect global capitalism penetration anywhere in the world And there's to be no resistance.  So if the government is resisting capitalization and profit making, it's time for a regime change.  And the US is getting very good at that.  So Qaddafi was taken out primarily because he was trying to sell his oil -- get other nations to sell their oil in gold. And that created a conflict in Europe and the US, so they took him out.  They created a resistance movement and funded it and then went in and did what they called humanitarian intervention and now Libya's in chaos.  So -- but that is war on behalf of global capital.  And I think what we can really look at going back to 9/11 and the justification for the invasion of Afghanistan, and then Iraq and the wars in Middle East have all been about, you know, revenge and protecting us from al Qaeda and terrorism but terrorism is primarily people who are resisting capital penetration and military control in their own homes, in their own communities. So, you know, people resist, we call them terrorists.  So that's an ongoing problem with concentrated wealth in the world today is that is maintained in a big part of that is through war.   And so we have permanent war and people are dying everywhere and mass inequality occurs and so that now we have the top 20% owning 95% of all the wealth but it's the top 1% that own half the wealth in the world and the bottom 80% of the people live on ten dollars a day or less, most of the people live on three dollars a day in the world, and a quarter live on $1.50.  So those people, those billions of people, 30,000 of them die every day of malnutrition and starvation.  So there's this massive inequality and massacre of people daily from lack of nutrition when there's more than enough food in the world to feed all of them.  You know, a third of the food in the world is thrown away because it's not deemed profitable to sell it. So we have really become a non-humanitarian society and capitalism is making that worse.

Oh, wait.  The Sonoma State University professor was a guest on THE CINDY SHEEHAN'S SOAPBOX.


Ellen, she used her platform to tell America that people who objected to homophobia were "haters" and that a crime took place when Kevin Hart was denied the chance to host the Academy Awards because he refused to apologize for advocating violence against children perceived as gay.

It was a curious misuse of power and took place the same week that LIFETIME was calling for accountability with their six part documentary SURVIVING R. KELLY.  While R. Kelly has denounced the series produced by dream hampton (among others) and directed by . . .

Well who knows?

never have i ever directed an episode of surviving r kelly. your article is factually inaccurate when a rudimentary trade search (variety, deadline et all) could have revealed truth. or a simple @ for comment.

At IMDB, you'll find:

(2019– )

Full Cast & Crew

Series Directed by 

Lyric R. Cabral ... (6 episodes, 2019)

Series Writing Credits  

Nigel Bellis ... (6 episodes, 2019)
Astral Finnie ... (6 episodes, 2019)           

We're confused by what article Lyric R. Cabral means at DEADLINE -- you can click here for all DEADLINE articles about SURVIVING R. KELLY.  There's only one and it doesn't mention the director.  We found this one which noted:

BuzzFeed News and Hulu are developing a feature documentary on singer R. Kelly. The film will explore Kelly’s alleged abuse and exploitation of young black women and will be streamed exclusively on Hulu. (T)ERROR filmmaker Lyric Cabral will direct with Oscar winner Laura Poitras and Charlotte Cook executive producing.

October 23rd, VANITY FAIR declared Lyric the director of SURVIVING R. KELLY and they repeated that assertion on December 5th.

You will find Lyric identified as the director in one article after another.  The excerpt above from DEADLINE?  The documentary film did not morph into SURVIVING R. KELLY.  Lyric is working on another R. Kelly project -- with BUZZFEED and Jim DeRogatis.

She's not involved in this one but instead of attacking Anjelica Jade, she might try grasping that article after article, news outlet after news outlet as well as IMDB are crediting her with being the director.  Anjelica did her research.  Lyric Tweeted without doing any.

SURVIVING R. KELLY documents many women who say they were abused by R. Kelly and some were girls when this happened.  It tries to ask how this could happen but really doesn't want to answer that question.

Angelica gets to the issue of responsibility in her piece -- and how it's avoided in the series:

The women mention how they weren’t allowed to speak to the people in R. Kelly’s life, but they also weren’t kept hidden. People in his circle knew.

So it is jarring to hear Sparkle talk about introducing her then-12-year-old niece to R. Kelly in order to grow her burgeoning rap talents. Sparkle even says that she knew to keep her eyes on her niece and never leave her alone in his presence. It’s here the docuseries taps into fertile ground that goes unexplored — how black women internalize messages about their self-worth and are betrayed by those closest to them. Sparkle is never pressed on the admittedly uneasy aspects of this story or why she would risk her niece’s safety for the chance at a thriving career. This leads to tensions between the hard work these women are doing being so vulnerable in front of the camera and the hard work the filmmakers aren’t doing in asking the complex questions that reveal both the nature of R.Kelly and how his abuse has persisted for so long.

That's an issue that needs to be explored.

Another issue?  Drop the sloganeering -- especially from Charlamagne Tha God.  He's useless (and his past Tweets are causing a problem for the documentary series).

Why the resistance that protected R. Kelly?

It's a historical issue.  For decades, African-American men have been the targets of sexual stereotypes and falsely accused of rape and other assaults.  It's why Clarence Thomas was able to refer to Anita Hill's charges of harassment as a "lynching."  At that time in history, it was more important to some to ensure that another African-American male got on the Supreme Court than it was to listen to an African-American women.  Author Alice Walker has been repeatedly attacked over the years by a number of African-American men because of her book THE COLOR PURPLE which includes Celie's abuse by Mister.  How dare she, some African-American men, have huffed write about the abuse of African-American women at the hands of African-American men.

These attacks still continue to this day -- COUNTERPUNCH publishes them several times a year -- on Alice's 1982 novel.  COUNTERPUNCH has never been noted as a publication that cares about African-Americans or leads in any way on issues effecting that community; however, anytime that Ishmael Reed, for example, attacks Alice and other African-American women, COUNTERPUNCH rushes to publish that.

It's a climate that goes far beyond people liking R. Kelly's songs or thinking he's a genius.

It also includes the issue that sometimes 'outrage' is nonsense.

For example, did Drake take a young girl to his hotel?  Not according to the current outrage but he did kiss her onstage.  Guess what?  Not a crime.  And David Cassidys and Bobby Shermans have been kissing girls in their concerts for years now.  Buy a clue.  He kissed a 17-year-old on the shoulder! After bringing her onstage!  He hugged her from behind!  It's that sort of nonsense that creates a climate where very real attacks on girls and women can be dismissed.

In fairness to the documentary, though they raise the issue of how R. Kelly got away with allegations of abuse for so many years, it's really not the focus.

They amass a large number of witnesses -- survivors as well as observers.  They build a convincing case.  And Emily Shugerman (DAILY BEAST) reports, "The National Sexual Assault Hotline saw a substantial increase in calls on the night Surviving R. Kelly premiered, a RAINN spokesperson told The Daily Beast. The hotline, which connects survivors to emotional support, information and resources, received 27 percent more calls on Thursday than the same day the week before."

800-656-4673 is the National Sexual Assault Hotline number.

SURVIVING R. KELLY was television that helped women and girls.  CINDY SHEEHAN'S SOAPBOX was radio that addressed issues of inequality and war.  And then there's . . . Ellen.

We warned you, two weeks ago, in "TV: The lies of Ellen DeGeneres are out in full force in her NETFLIX special," that she was out of touch, that she had rage towards her fans, that she was rewriting history and playing a victim.  Let's start with the last first:

It did not take her three years to get back on television.  It wasn't even two years.  The last new episode of ELLEN aired July 20, 1998.  March 7, 2000, she was back on TV in HBO's IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK II.  It was one year and about seven months.  Three years?  No. Equally true, the last new episode of ELLEN aired July 20, 1998 and she was on TV frequently in 1999 promoting her two films released that year, ED TV and THE LOVE LETTER.

Even more important, while in NYC to wrap up her comedy tour (July 2000), she told reporters that she would begin filming a sitcom for CBS shortly (THE ELLEN SHOW -- a sitcom where she was again playing Ellen who was gay from the start of the show -- the sitcom also featured the last filmed reunion of Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner).

But Ellen was never 'away.'

Yes,  it did hurt her career to come out, but we're not the only ones who applauded her in real time.  And have applauded her since.  A lot of people applauded her in real time.  What she did was historic.

Which is why she really doesn't need to mess with the truth about what she did.

That resulted in a number of e-mails (Ty counts 63) from people who viewed the special and felt like Ellen was ignoring the real story: That she was embraced by so many.

Because she was.

Her TV show was cancelled.  But that wasn't due to low ratings.  It did as well or better than many ABC sitcoms that came back (including the awful SPIN CITY).

Yes, ELLEN's "The Puppy" episode was huge -- her hour long show where she teased her coming out for about a half an hour.  And people tuned in to support her.

After she came out?  Her audience was about the same as before.  But that had more to do with a so-so sitcom, let's be honest.  It never knew what it was.  It started out THESE FRIENDS OF MINE and her co-stars were Holly Fulger, Maggie Wheeler and Arye Gross.  Clea Lewis was a guest star and gave a breakout performance as Audrey so it was smart to turn her into a regular character; however, how smart was it to get rid of Holly, Maggie (who went on to play Janice on FRIENDS) or Arye?

Because the show got rid of all of them.  And it added Spence (Jeremy Piven -- someone Ellen's notoriously silent on) and Joley Fisher (who was not close to Ellen, especially in the final season).
And Ellen changed bosses and she changed careers.  And everything kept changing.

There were funny episodes.  Usually anything that prominently features Clea Lewis is hilarious.  But there were also shows that just didn't cut it.  And what was that insipid Civil War re-enactment episode about?  Seriously, it was 1997, why make that episode?

Spence, Fisher's Paige, Audrey and David Anthony Higgens' Joe?  All are absent from the episode.  It was so awful and hideous and like a LAVERNE & SHIRLEY episode where they join the military but only not funny and really sad -- let's just say that, really, really sad.

Episode after episode, in the final season, found Paige or Joe or Audrey or Spence -- or some combination -- including "all" -- absent.  What was the show?  It's a little bit dishonest of her to pretend it was consistent or that it tried to please viewers.  Forgetting the gay angle, she refused to honor her co-stars and, yes, Joley Fisher was right to be angry about that in the final season of the show.

And fans who liked Audrey, Paige, Joe and Spence were right to be upset that the characters weren't on the episodes and they were right to wonder if this was going to be yet another cast purge like the way Holly, Maggie and Arye were disappeared from the show?

That's on her, that was a stupid and, yes, sh**ty thing to do.

Chastity Bono (she was Chastity then and she was a she then) saying ELLEN was too gay for TV (saying it on air to Jay Leno, in print to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and VARIETY) didn't help either.  But the real problem was disappearing the cast.  THESE FRIENDS OF MINE started off as a SEINFELD rip-off.  But Jerry Seinfeld never needed to disappear Elaine, George or Kramer on any of the episodes where his character had a date.  Strange that ELLEN couldn't do the same.

Again, despite this, the show did not plummet in the ratings.

ABC didn't want it.  They didn't want it after the coming out episode.  They had been clear in press whispers that they thought the fourth season should have been the last.

That's a network.  That's not the people.

Ellen coming out mattered.  But let's be clear that it didn't destroy her career nor was it going to.  Ellen is asexual onscreen.  She always has been, always will be.  It's why MR. WRONG was such a huge box office disaster.  Ellen was funny gal and being an out lesbian was not going to hurt her.

It did hurt Anne Heche.  Coming out as Ellen's lover destroyed Anne's leading lady career that she had slowly built up to.  Anne's refusal to hop back in a closet after Ellen also hurt her.  Anne upsets people because she can be put into a simple box.

Ellen was never going to suffer.  America had already embraced Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lange, Elton John, Martina Navratilova, Amanda Bearse (who was the first openly gay performer to play a gay character on a TV sitcom when she played Marcy's cousin Mandy on MARRIED WITH CHILDREN), Dan Butler, Sandra Bernhard . . .

More would come out in the years to come but no one would ever come out like Ellen did.  She got in bed with ABC on it.  She let them dictate it.  She could have started season four with both herself and  her character out of the closet.  But that's not what happened, is it?

Instead, we got her joking about being . . . Lebanese.

Instead, we got a roll out of months and months and months and months . . .

She actually turned it into a ratings stunt, if we're going to be really honest.

And she did that with ABC's assistance.  They knew it would drive up viewership . . . for the big coming out episode.

There's a lot of truth left out of her victimization story including the fact that no one victimized her more than she did.

Her refusal to acknowledge that the public was always there for -- because they were -- and that the industry still supported her -- because it did -- goes to her sour outlook.

It may be why she sees Kevin Hart as a victim.

Kevin Hart, for those who don't know, is a B-list film actor (comedian), he can't carry a film and, without Dwayne Johnson as his co-star, most movie goers avoid him.  He had a dopey TV show (REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD) that no one watched -- first episode had nearly five million viewers and, in its fifth and final season, only about half a million people were watching.  His comedy albums haven't stormed the charts.

He's a short man who squeaks a lot and, honestly, would be cast as Monroe in any reboot of TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT.  Why?  He reads gay.

Ellen is not asexual -- clearly, she's had several high profile relationships.  That is how she reads onscreen.  Kevin Hart reads gay onscreen.

And that may be why he goes to such extreme to denounce and attack gays?

Who knows and, honestly, at this point, who cares?  He turns 40 this year and he still can't show the maturity required to apologize for preaching violence against children perceived as gay.

He knew what he was doing and he was trying to get cheap laughs via homophobia.

No, it wasn't acceptable.  Don't pretend it was.  It was never acceptable but after the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998, the US damn well knew it wasn't acceptable to preach violence against someone because of their sexuality or what you thought their sexuality might be.

We should also note he used "fa**t" repeatedly to insult people and that he's spoken of violence against his first wife while, a little over 12 months ago, he was cheating on wife number two.

This is the person to host the biggest night for US film in the year?  This is the person to represent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science?

In what world?

He brought his problems on himself.  No one forced to preach violence, no one forced to preach hate, no one forced him to be violent with his first wife and no one forced him to cheat on wife number two.

But there was Ellen assuming the role of Elder Gay, Queen Mother, and telling her viewers that it was "haters'' who called out Kevin Hart and that he needed to be the host of the Oscars because people change!

She really thought she could control the audience that she so disdains.

She thought she could order them around.

It honestly reminded us of Chastity Bono.

Was there ever a more useless spokeswoman for lesbians -- other than Ellen, of course?

Not only did Chastity insist that ELLEN was too gay for TV, you may remember that, citing her lesbian credentials, she wanted the world to know that Mel Gibson wasn't homophobic, that he was wonderful and . . .

That sort of blew up in Chaz's face, didn't it?

And this little stunt Ellen pulled has blown up in her face as well.  It's so bad that her brother has taken to Twitter.

Well said, Tracie, well said.

And Vance would do well to stop Tweeting.

His sister made this a public issue.  She needs to apologize and own her action.

Ellen will be 60 this year.  She is beyond wealthy -- a point she couldn't stop noting in her NETFLIX special.  She is far removed from reality.  She's confused celebrity for hero status.

People of color face additional hurdles and challenges that others do not.  If these people of color also happen to be LGBTQ, there are even more hurdles and challenges.  Ellen put her big nose where it didn't belong.

The people calling out Kevin Hart's homophobia were not "trolls" (Kevin's term) or "haters" (Ellen's term).  They were journalists, they were activists and they were also LGBTQ.  And Ellen spat on them to defend her fellow millionaire celebrity Kevin Hart.

She allowed him to lie on her show about what he did and what happened.  She then co-signed those lies.  She has a lot to answer for.

We strongly recommend Ira Madison III's "Ellen DeGeneres's Kevin Hart Interview Was An Insult To The Black LGBTQ Community," Matthew Jacobs' "Ellen DeGeneres's Kevin Hart 'Interview' Is Artificial-Talk Show Culture At It's Worse," Christina Cauterucci's "Ellen Doesn't Get to Decide if Kevin Hart Has Apologized for His Anti-Gay Remarks," Tre'velle Anderson's "The Problem With Ellen DeGeneres' Kevin Hart Interview," Spencer Kornhaber's "Kevin Hart Is Not A Martyr," Caroline Framke's "Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres' Oscar Conspiracy Theories Only Make Things Worse,"  Karen Ocamb's "Deconstructing The Ellen DeGeneres Cover Up of Kevin Hart's Latent Homophobia," Drew Goins' "Who Died And Made Ellen DeGeneres The Gay Pope?," and "Don Lemon to Kevin Hart: Walking Away Right Now Is Your Choice."

That's a lot of recommendations -- because this is a big conversation taking place.

We don't take part in pile ons.  When Britney Spears shaved her head, we could have been bitchy and funny but we resisted.  For those who feel we are now part of a pile on?  The victims here are the LGBTQ community members.  This includes people triggered by Kevin Hart's nonsense and hate but it also includes those put at risk by the attitudes Kevin Hart expresses.

Ellen did not have a personal moment -- like Britney -- that led to a pile on.  She chose to use her show to promote a homophobe and to attack those who spoke out against homophobia.  If this were Ellen using her show to promote a racist and to attack those who spoke out against racism, we'd all be appalled.  And we should all be appalled by what Ellen did.  Her brother is wrong, she's not the victim.  She chose to perpetuate hate against the LGBTQ community.

Guess what?  Her being a lesbian?  That doesn't give her a pass on homophoiba.

And, as we noted a few weeks back, she keeps inflating what she actually did and inflating the 'suffering' she endured in 1998.  She needs to grow up and she needs to grasp that what she did last week was wrong and it was offensive and it was a betrayal of everything we want this country to stand for.

Not all that long ago, she was trying to rehab War Criminal Bully Boy Bush.  She should have faced intense backlash for that.  Possibly because she didn't, she now thinks she can get away with rehabbing a homophobe -- a non-apologetic homophobe.

William Arkin critiques the media

William Arkin left NBC and MSNBC last week.  Bill Van Auken reports on it in "NBC journalist resigns, blasting media as 'defender of Washington and the system'" (WSWS).  Below is the letter Arkin sent announcing his departure:

January 4 is my last day at NBC News and I'd like to say goodbye to my friends, hopefully not for good. This isn't the first time I've left NBC, but this time the parting is more bittersweet, the world and the state of journalism in tandem crisis. My expertise, though seeming to be all the more central to the challenges and dangers we face, also seems to be less valued at the moment. And I find myself completely out of synch with the network, being neither a day-to-day reporter nor interested in the Trump circus.

I first started my association with NBC 30 years ago, feeding Cold War stories to Bob Windrem and Fred Francis at the Pentagon. I became an on-air analyst during the 1999 Kosovo War, continuing to work thereafter with Nightly News, delighting and oftentimes annoying in my peculiar position of being a mere civilian amongst THE GENERALS and former government officials. A scholar at heart, I also found myself an often lone voice that was anti-nuclear and even anti-military, anti-military for me meaning opinionated but also highly knowledgeable, somewhat akin to a movie critic, loving my subject but also not shy about making judgements regarding the flops and the losers.

When the attacks of 9/11 came, I was called back to NBC. I spent weeks on and off the air talking about al Qaeda and the various wars we were rushing into, arguing that airpower and drones would be the centerpiece not troops. In the new martial environment where only one war cry was sanctioned I was out of sync then as well. I retreated somewhat to writing a column for the Los Angeles Times, but even there I had to fight editors who couldn't believe that there would be a war in Iraq. And I spoke up about the absence of any sort of strategy for actually defeating terrorism, annoying the increasing gaggles of those who seemed to accept that a state of perpetual war was a necessity.

I thought then that there was great danger in the embrace of process and officialdom over values and public longing, and I wrote about the increasing power of the national security community. Long before Trump and "deep state" became an expression, I produced one ginormous investigation -- Top Secret America -- for the Washington Post and I wrote a nasty book -- American Coup -- about the creeping fascism of homeland security.

Looking back now they were both harbingers for what President Obama (and then Trump) faced in terms of largely failing to make enduring change. Somewhere in all of that, and particularly as the social media wave began, it was clear that NBC (like the rest of the news media) could no longer keep up with the world. Added to that was the intellectual challenge of how to report our new kind of wars when there were no real fronts and no actual measures of success. To me there is also a larger problem: though they produce nothing that resembles actual safety and security, the national security leaders and generals we have are allowed to do their thing unmolested. Despite being at "war," no great wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a soul in Washington who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict. And though there might be the beloved perfumed princes in the form of the Petraeus' and Wes Clarks', or the so-called warrior monks like Mattis and McMaster, we've had more than a generation of national security leaders who sadly and fraudulently have done little of consequence. And yet we (and others) embrace them, even the highly partisan formers who masquerade as "analysts". We do so ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one county in the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous.

As perpetual war has become accepted as a given in our lives, I'm proud to say that I've never deviated in my argument at NBC (or at my newspaper gigs) that terrorists will never be defeated until we better understand why they are driven to fighting. And I have maintained my central view that airpower (in its broadest sense including space and cyber) is not just the future but the enabler and the tool of war today.

Seeking refuge in its political horse race roots, NBC (and others) meanwhile report the story of war as one of Rumsfeld vs. the Generals, as Wolfowitz vs. Shinseki, as the CIA vs. Cheney, as the bad torturers vs. the more refined, about numbers of troops and number of deaths, and even then Obama vs. the Congress, poor Obama who couldn't close Guantanamo or reduce nuclear weapons or stand up to Putin because it was just so difficult. We have contributed to turning the world national security into this sort of political story. I find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum reporting.

I'm a difficult guy, not prone to either protocol or procedure and I give NBC credit that it tolerated me through my various incarnations. I hope people will say in the early days that I made Brokaw and company smarter about nuclear weapons, about airpower, and even about al Qaeda. And I'm proud to say that I also was one of the few to report that there weren't any WMD in Iraq and remember fondly presenting that conclusion to an incredulous NBC editorial board. I argued endlessly with MSNBC about all things national security for years, doing the daily blah, blah, blah in Secaucus, but also poking at the conventional wisdom of everyone from Matthews to Hockenberry. And yet I feel like I've failed to convey this larger truth about the hopelessness of our way of doing things, especially disheartened to watch NBC and much of the rest of the news media somehow become a defender of Washington and the system.
Windrem again convinced me to return to NBC to join the new investigative unit in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign. I thought that the mission was to break through the machine of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge Hillary Clinton's hawkishness. It was also an interesting moment at NBC because everyone was looking over their shoulder at Vice and other upstarts creeping up on the mainstream. But then Trump got elected and Investigations got sucked into the tweeting vortex, increasingly lost in a directionless adrenaline rush, the national security and political version of leading the broadcast with every snow storm. And I would assert that in many ways NBC just began emulating the national security state itself -- busy and profitable. No wars won but the ball is kept in play.

I'd argue that under Trump, the national security establishment not only hasn't missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength. Now it is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism. I'd also argue, ever so gingerly, that NBC has become somewhat lost in its own verve, proxies of boring moderation and conventional wisdom, defender of the government against Trump, cheerleader for open and subtle threat mongering, in love with procedure and protocol over all else (including results). I accept that there's a lot to report here, but I'm more worried about how much we are missing. Hence my desire to take a step back and think why so little changes with regard to America's wars.

I know it is characteristic of our overexcited moment to blast away at former employers and mainstream institutions, but all I can say is that despite many frustrations, my time at NBC has been gratifying. Working with Cynthia McFadden has been the experience of a lifetime. I've learned a ton about television from her and Kevin Monahan, the secret insider tricks of the trade and the very big picture of what makes for original stories (and how powerful they can be). The young reporters at NBC are also universally excellent. Thanks to Noah Oppenheim for his support of my contrarian and disruptive presence. And to Janelle Rodriguez, who supported deep expertise. The Nightly crew has also been a constant fan of my too long stories and a great team. I continue to marvel as Phil Griffin carries out his diabolical plan for the cable network to take over the world.

I'm proud of the work I've done with my team and know that there's more to do. But for now it's time to take a break. I'm ever so happy to return to writing and thinking without the officiousness of editorial tyrants or corporate standards. And of course I yearn to go back to my first love, which is writing boring reports about secret programs, grateful that the American government so graciously obliges in its constant supply. And I particularly feel like the world is moving so quickly that even in just the little national security world I inhabit, I need more time to sit back and think. And to replenish.

In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I think -- like everyone else does -- that we miss so much. People who don't understand the medium, or the pressures, loudly opine that it's corporate control or even worse, that it's partisan. Sometimes I quip in response to friends on the outside (and to government sources) that if they mean by the word partisan that it is New Yorkers and Washingtonians against the rest of the country then they are right.

For me I realized how out of step I was when I looked at Trump's various bumbling intuitions: his desire to improve relations with Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, to question why we are fighting in Africa, even in his attacks on the intelligence community and the FBI. Of course he is an ignorant and incompetent impostor. And yet I'm alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn't get out Syria? We shouldn't go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don't even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?

Even without Trump, our biggest challenge as we move forward is that we have become exhausted parents of our infant (and infantile) social media children. And because of the "cycle," we at NBC (and all others in the field of journalism) suffer from a really bad case of not being able to ever take a breath. We are a long way from resolving the rules of the road in this age, whether it be with regard to our personal conduct or anything related to hard news. I also don't think that we are on a straight line towards digital nirvana, that is, that all of this information will democratize and improve society. I sense that there is already smartphone and social media fatigue creeping across the land, and my guess is that nothing we currently see -- nothing that is snappy or chatty -- will solve our horrific challenges of information overload or the role (and nature) of journalism. AndI am sure that once Trump leaves center stage, society will have a gigantic media hangover. Thus for NBC -- and for everyone else -- there is challenge and opportunity ahead. I'd particularly like to think and write more about that.

There's a saying about consultants, that organizations hire them to hear exactly what they want to hear. I'm proud to say that NBC didn't do that when it came to me. Similarly I can say that I'm proud that I'm not guilty of giving my employers what they wanted. Still, the things this and most organizations fear most -- variability, disturbance, difference -- those things that are also the primary drivers of creativity -- are not really the things that I see valued in the reporting ranks.

I'm happy to go back to writing and commentary. This winter, I'm proud to say that I've put the finishing touches on a 9/11 conspiracy novel that I've been toiling on for over a decade. It's a novel, but it meditates on the question of how to understand terrorists in a different way. And I'm undertaking two new book-writing projects, one fiction about a lone reporter and his magical source that hopes to delve into secrecy and the nature of television. And, If you read this far, I am writing a non-fiction book, an extended essay about national security and why we never seem to end our now perpetual state of war. There is lots of media critique out there, tons of analysis of leadership and the Presidency. But on the state of our national security? Not so much. Hopefully I will find myself thinking beyond the current fire and fury and actually suggest a viable alternative. Wish me luck.

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